The apostle Paul admonished that we should "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Obviously, Paul did not mean that we should pray non-stop during every waking moment. He meant that we should pray continually, not continuously. But continually could mean periodically but not necessarily frequently. Clearly, that is not what Paul meant either. The sense is that we should pray regularly, frequently, and consistently.
But just how frequently? How often should we pray? There's no hard and fast answer. What might be sufficient for one person might be inadequate for someone else. What might be enough one day might not be enough another day. A good way to begin to answer how often we should pray would be to ask another question: how often do we need to pray?
Prayer is our extension cord to God's throne. How often do we need His power to intervene in our lives? We certainly need to always remain plugged in. Prayer is our private hot-line to the throne room in Heaven. How often do we need to talk to God? We absolutely need to always stay connected. But how often should we pray each day?
Common sense gives us some basic guidelines that can serve as a good starting point. It simply makes sense to begin each day in prayer to God. We need Him to guide, sustain, bless, and protect us all day long. We want God to walk with us throughout the day. So, as we enter each day we should ask God into that day.
It also makes sense to close each day with prayer. We would do well to ask God to put our mind at ease, grant us a good night's rest, and watch over us as we lay our head on our pillow each evening.
We should pray to God in thanksgiving as we eat each meal during the day, and we should always give thanks for other blessings received during the day. Every day holds many blessings. Often, we take blessings for granted and don't even think of them as blessings. We should train ourselves to be aware of our blessings and to properly give God thanks and praise for them.
At the same time, we should pray to God for perceived needs during the day. God wants us to demonstrate our faith in Him, and express our dependence upon Him, by asking Him for our needs. We're almost always aware of needs in the lives of other people around us. We ought to discipline ourselves to pray regularly for their needs, as well as for ours.
Sometimes we need to pray when there's no special occasion. We just need to pray! The more we pray, the more focused we'll be on our relationship with God. The more we pray, the less likely we'll be to get off track spiritually. The more we pray, the more we stay in vital contact with God.
How often should we pray? Perhaps we would do well to turn the question into a statement: We need to pray often! Surely, if we pray often every day we'll fulfill Paul's admonition to "pray without ceasing," and we'll be better off for it...
Gary L. Hutchens